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Recording to interface directly

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by JonahTheAmazing, Jul 22, 2012.

  1. JonahTheAmazing


    Dec 19, 2010
    I have a question about the quality of general USB interfaces. Most people use a DI of sorts, but what is the quality of a bass without one? Straight from the bass to the interface. Is the DI necessary to conjure a decent tone?

    My plan is to purchase a Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB interface, and if necessary a Hartke VXL Bass attack. I would rather not drop the extra hundred dollars on the Hartke DI, but I do want flexibility in tone, and I believe with the DI I will be able to make a serviceable sound. I like the idea of having a DI and a pedal to shape the tone, so it appears this Hartke DI is the perfect fit for me. I just want to know if the purchase will make a notable difference.

    Also, on the subject of interfaces, if anyone has experience with one, I'd love to hear how the Scarlett 2i2 functions and sounds.

    Thanks for reading.
  2. The Scarlett 2i2 has an instrument input, which means that a DI is not needed to perform the Impedance matching between instrument and Preamplifier. Unless you want the tone shaping features of the VXL, which is essentially a Bass Preamp, a DI is not necessary to record your bass guitar with a Scarlett Interface.

    I don't have first hand experience with the Scarlett but I do Know that Focusrite makes excellent gear and the preamps are very nice sounding.
  3. Dbassmon


    Oct 2, 2004
    Rutherford, NJ
    This is correct. Audio interfaces preform the task of direct box.
  4. shewhorn


    Jan 30, 2012
    Boston, MA
    I have a technical nitpick. :) You have to be careful, some of them do not. A direct box does two things, 1) it takes an unbalanced signal and converts it to a balanced signal, and 2) it takes a high impedance input and converts it to a low impedance (usually 600 ohms) output. You can only say that a direct box is not needed IF the audio interface in question has a high impedance input (and as Hellbastard mentioned the Scarlet 2i2 does meet this criteria).

    Last week I did a lot of research into the various audio interfaces out there and one of my requirements was that it had a high impedance input (around 1 mega ohm). That requirement quickly took a few audio interfaces out of consideration. A lot of them DO have an unbalanced, 1/4" input, and a lot of them DO have enough gain, but that alone doesn't really make them ideal for recording an instrument like an electric bass or electric guitar. When you have an impedance mismatch like that, you can lose some clarity (top end) as well as signal strength resulting in a poor signal to noise ratio. Even when the manufacturer claims to have an instrument input, you still have to do your homework to make sure it's actually up to the job (obviously trying it is the best option but that's not practical for many of us). I'm borrowing an M-Audio Interface from my teacher and although it has an "instrument/line" switch on the front (and one of those Neutrik dual XLR/1/4" inputs), it's woefully inadequate for recording bass direct (sounds awful, not enough gain, TONS of noise when you crank the gain up enough to where you actually get any kind of signal).

    Cheers, Joe

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